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Chong Lee’s Intro to “Dynamic Kicks”

Updated: Apr 18

Chong Lee’s “Dynamic Kicks”

There was a time when black belts were rarely, if ever, issued to children. But even then, Chong Lee broke through the traditions, earning a first degree black belt in the ji do kwan style of tae kwon do at the age of seven. When most youngsters were playing loosely organized childhood games, Lee was being drawn to public exhibitions of the arts. Before he reached his eighth birthday, he became a noted figure in winning circles in his native Korea.

For Lee, tae kwon do became a near obsession. From the first days in the dojang he showed an uncanny aptitude for stylish kicking. Once satisfied that he had enough of a basic background in tae kwon do, he began a search for something that would add to the refinement of his art. He found that something in Thai kickboxing, where he learned more diverse battle techniques to go along with the leg and feet maneuvers he had already mastered.

Chong Lee’s “Dynamic Kicks”

Upon his arrival in the United States, Lee plunged into competition. Because he was more accustomed to the full contact, free form fighting of his homeland, though, he was disqualified time and again for contact. The man who had worked so long and so hard to become a living weapon now had to draw upon all his discipline to stop his action before contact was made.

When full contact tournaments began cropping up all over the United States, Lee finally found a niche in the American martial arts world. Yet even at this point, he set a precedent. While most full contact fighters shun forms competition, Lee became involved in both.

Though he finds full contact his sport, he does not hesitate to compete in kata where crowds and judges alike find his creativity impressive. While many full contact fighters find hand techniques more devastating than kicking, Lee shows them how wrong they are. In his new book, Dynamic Kicks, Chong Lee reveals the dazzling style that has gained him a valued reputation in the martial arts fighting world.

Techniques Basic to All Kicks

The following is taken from Dynamic Kicks (OHARA PUBLICATIONS) by Chong Lee.

As noted earlier, certain standard principles-based on the laws of physics and the human anatomy-exist to guide all kickers in the most efficient and most powerful use of their legs. The judicious student practices, religiously, certain techniques based on these principles, whether he delivers a roundhouse kick or a side kick, a front kick or a back kick, because he realizes that they apply to almost all kicking executions.

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The following five precepts are by no means the entire range of techniques basic to all kicking. They do present, however, the more important aspects of kicking movement. Of these five precepts, the first three-using full power only at full extension; raising the kicking knee and leg up high and maintaining a straight line through the body, hips and legs-should be given the utmost consideration.

Use full power only at full extension. Many practitioners use full power throughout execution of a technique and, as a result, they must tense their muscles continuously. This tension not only hinders speed of execution but also wastes power. While all kicks should be executed at maximum speed, the entire leg should remain relaxed until the point of full extension. Then, complete power (and by consequence, muscle tension) should be applied in one short, swift burst. 

Chong Lee’s “Dynamic Kicks”

Raise the kicking knee and leg up high. All kicks should be initiated with the knee raised as high as possible, poised for speedy flexing. Execution can then follow in one smooth motion, with the leg extending as is appropriate for the specific kick involved. This upraised position is most favorable because:

(a) Kicks exert greater penetrating power when the angle between the extending leg and a line running horizontally through the target is decreased.

(b) It gives your opponent less time to react: with the knee raised high, the kick can shoot out to a wider range of targets (high, medium, low). As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for the opponent to anticipate quickly the kick's ultimate target.

(c) A kick initiated from this position is harder to block. When the kick is driven up from the ground directly to the target, the opponent need only lower his forearm to counter the blow. With the leg raised high and closer to the opponent's body, he cannot block with such simple effectiveness. He cannot readily anticipate the line traveled by the extending leg and, consequently, cannot rapidly decide on a suitable block.

In conjunction with the above, the wise fighter never begins by bringing his kicking foot back to the knee of his supporting leg. This sort of movement diminishes speed and wastes power. For example, consider the fighter faced with an opponent's approaching head punch. He spots an opening to the opponent's rib cage and, hoping to deliver a side kick before the punch lands, cocks his foot back to the knee of his supporting_leg. At this point, he begins to appreciate the stupidity of this initial move. Before he can raise his knee and execute the kick, the opponent's punch connects. The fighter should have raised the knee of his kicking leg while thrusting the side kick forward. Then, even if his kick was too slow to land effectively in and of itself, the opponent's advance would have been stopped and his punch nullified.

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Maintain a straight line through the body, hips and legs.

(a) Power and speed are primary qualities of strong, solid kicks. However, if only the leg muscles work to execute the kick, power and speed are generated by these muscles alone.

On the other hand, when the hips are also thrust forward in line with the extending leg, the whole body contributes to the force of the kick. The thrust created by using the hip multiplies the speed of the leg and a tremendous amount of power results.

Chong Lee’s “Dynamic Kicks”

b) In addition, even if the hip is thrown in the same direction as the extending leg, power and speed are drastically reduced unless the body follows in this line also. For example, assume that in a side kick delivered to a brick wall, the hip and extending leg are in line but the body is not. The brick wall is immovable so the force of the kick is redirected back toward the kicker. At this point, the body and leg function as separate units connected by the hip joint: the extended leg moves back with the redirected thrust. This force is absorbed by a backward spring in the hip joint but the body still continues its movement forward. In the end, total power is lost as it is diverted along several different directional linessome of these moving away from the intended target. Also, the varying lines of force work against each other, diminishing speed.

If, on the other hand, the body, hip and extending leg are held on the same line, all move in same direction-either through the wall (breaking either the wall or the kicker's foot) or away from it in the opposite direction. In both cases, the power and speed generated are not diverted but move in one line. Power and speed here may be redirected altogether but neither is diminished, divided or reduced.

Keep sudden changes in rhythm and movement to a minimum. Before and during initiation of any kicking technique, the fighter's eyes and body should not undergo any sudden, discernable change. If, while free-fighting, his body constantly moves, this movement should be maintained for as long as possible before the actual kick begins. If, however, the fighter's stance is rigid and without movement, his body should be kept perfectly still and only the leg should move (albeit, very swiftly) at the start of the kick. The point here, in any case, is keeping the opponent from obtaining any foreknowledge of an upcoming kick.

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Use eye feints and peripheral vision. Because eyes (quick glances, visual preoccupations, etc.) often betray a fighter's up-coming targets, noting the opponent's eye movements can . provide clues to his immediate intentions. The clever fighter, then, watches his opponent's eyes but uses eye feints to disguise his own intentions. He also uses peripheral vision as much as focused eyesight since this gives him a wider range of visual awareness. Narrowly focused eyesight, on the other hand, necessarily leads the fighter to concentrate on only one area at a time, causing him to neglect other spots open to attack.

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